Google Updates Reviews Guidelines for Local Businesses

Google has made several new additions to its Reviews Guidelines, focusing on local business reviews. The new guidelines discourage adding markup for reviews from third-party websites, stating that reviews may only come from the site itself.

The new guidelines read as follows:

  • Do not include reviews that are duplicate or similar reviews across many businesses or from different sources.
  • Only include reviews that have been directly produced by your site, not reviews from third- party sites or syndicated reviews.

Google wants markup reviews to come from customers using your site, not from another source. Additionally, the disallowing of duplicate or similar reviews provide visitors with an unbiased opinion when they visit a website.

Other local business reviews guidelines include:

  • No snippets are written/provided by the website unless “genuine, independent, and unpaid editorial reviews.”
  • Must allow positive and negative reviews
  • No reviews based on template sentences “built from data or automated metrics.”
  • No templated sentences such as, “Based on X number of responses, on average people experience X with this business.”
  • Reviews for multiple-location businesses (retail chains, franchises) must be submitted for their specific locations
  • No commercial agreements (paid or otherwise) by aggregate/syndicate sites to provide reviews
    What all these guidelines have in common are providing visitors with an extensive set of honest, accurate reviews.

Discouraging the posting of reviews markup from syndicated or third-party sites shows Google’s stance on businesses that use these sites to provide incorrect or inflated information where it isn’t deserved.

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